The quantity (or weight) and the commercial value of these goods were determined by a group of specialists, and then added up and recorded using a system of tokens, or calculi, and tablets inscribed with numerals.
These tools were used only by a special class whose members devoted their time to this type of management task. The person who occupied the highest position in this social hierarchy may have been the individual represented on the many discovered cylinder seals found in these new born cities.
This system of recording is called Coniform The original writing system derives from a system of clay tokens used to represent commodities. By the end of the 4th millennium BC, this had evolved into a method of keeping accounts, using a round-shaped stylus impressed into soft clay at different angles for recording numbers. This was gradually augmented with pictographic writing by using a sharp stylus to indicate what was being counted. Round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing were gradually replaced around 2700–2500 BC by writing using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform), at first only for logograms, but developed to include phonetic elements by the 29th century BC.
A little before 5000 BC, the Syrian agricultural villages started advancing into a more sophisticated social- political form of organization. The villages already practiced irrigation and fallow-field farming, but their social structure gradually grew more complex as a new hierarchical organization based on chiefdom was introduced. Villages began to have certain houses, larger than the others, which are believed to have been the seats of an early form of government. Signs of dedicated workshops strongly suggesting the adoption of a new social order, in which it was possible for specialized craftsmen to devote themselves to work that was not related to farming. It is these villages that were destined to grow and to form the first cities of the bronze age. That took place on the banks of the two rivers; the Euphrates and the Tigris. Large urban agglomerations, gradually took shape in the fourth millennium before our era. Those who has ruled these cities represented an entirely new social phenomenon. As part of their trade network, they set up other cities along the banks of the Euphrates to serve as strategically placed commercial posts. Some of these “colony cities” were quite large for the time, covering up to 10 hectares. Surrounded by thick defensive walls, they held dozens of houses, The many public buildings in these towns also included large storehouses for goods that would eventually be traded or that had been acquired through such trade.
Bronze & Iron Age GalleryBisher2020-12-30T21:29:00+00:00